The Bonneville Power Administration (BPA), headquartered in Portland, Oregon, is an agency of the federal government (part of the U.S. Department of Energy) that was created by Congress in 1937 to market the electricity generated by Bonneville and Grand Coulee dams. Today, the agency sells the power from 31 federal dams and one nuclear power plant. It supplies about half of the electricity used in the Northwest and operates more than three-quarters of the region’s high voltage transmission lines. BPA also is responsible for implementing a regional conservation plan as well as regional fish and wildlife programs.
While BPA is part of the Department of Energy, it is not supported through taxes. It recovers all of its costs through sales of electricity and transmission, repaying the U.S. Treasury in full with interest for any borrowed funds.
In order to market power, BPA has built the nation’s largest network of long-distance, high-voltage transmission lines, which serves as the main power grid for Washington, Oregon, Idaho, and western Montana. Consequently, just about every person, home, and business in the Pacific Northwest relies on BPA in some form.
BPA sells wholesale electricity to 149 customers, which includes public and private utilities and some large industries, mostly aluminum factories. Snohomish County PUD purchases more electricity from BPA than any other of its utility customers.